BJJ Mechanics

Mechanics Behind The Armbar

The Armbar Explained!

The armbar is one of the most recognizable submissions and the most diverse, variations as well as methods of execution are plenty and an armbar may be one of the first ever submissions you learn in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Classified as an armlock, the armbar focuses on hyperextending the elbow joint using effective full-body leverage to secure and initiate the lock on the targeted arm. Armbar attacks may come from almost any position but is prevalent from positions such as mount, side control or full guard where the opponent or threat is controlled thus allowing the practitioner to work the armbar and secure it.


Let’s get Scientific 


The main joint that is hyperextended is the humeroulnar joint (ulnohumeral or trochlear joint) while there are other joints such as humeroradial and radioulnar joint that suffer a degree of hyperextension during the execution of the armbar the humeroulnar joint suffers the brunt of the hyperextension. An average person has about 5 degrees of hyperextension before requiring to tap and while most practitioners often tap before serious damage occurs, the worst case scenario for an armbar that is applied with continuous force is dislocation of the ulna from the humerus. While the muscles may become strained they are not likely to tear, however, the muscle’s attachment on the ulna will rip off the main structure (avulsion fracture)


Even More Science


"Raise your hips!"

The mechanical strength of an armbar is based upon a first class lever, similar to a crowbar. Whereby the load is the elbow and the fulcrum is the hips as well as the effort of pushing your hips upwards. The armbar is requires very good positional awareness as well as good hips to allow for more efficient and effective neutralization of a threat. In the case of an opponent standing up, an armbar may be held or transitioned into other submissions as the control from this position is very effective at keeping a threat neutralized.


Pro Tips

An armbar is one of the most joint damaging submissions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, here are some pro tips for you would be practitioners! 

1. Don’t Panic

Our instructors and students are well trained and are not out to hurt you, while the mechanics may be lost on you for the first few attempts do not panic! Panicking often increases heart-rate and may make the situation worse off as constant explosive movement may be adding to the hyperextension.

2. Don’t Wait For The Snap To Tap!!

The nature of an armbar is gruesome and waiting for the last minute to tap can cause you to be off the mats for an extended period of time, live to fight another day is the motto here! As soon as you feel the hyperextension on your elbow, the next best thing to do is tap and work on defence for the next time you are on the receiving end. 

3. Don’t aggressively roll and yank!

Especially if you’re not sure of what to do next.

While there may be some exceptions to this rule on a competition context, armbars are dangerous and should not be attempted with too much aggression if you are unaware of what you are doing. Understand the mechanics of the armbar and its limitations before using the armbar to its fullest potential.


If you're new to BJJ, our Beginner's BJJ classes are available on Wednesdays at 6PM at our City Centre branch and Thursday at 8PM at our Bangsar branch! White belts only!